Cougars turn the lights out on the Bisons
by Jason McKenzie
The Cougars men’s hockey team was at home for two games against the University of Manitoba Bisons, which marked the start of the regular season for the Canada West hockey league. The Bisons are division rivals for the Cougars, and every game against them is very important in determining who will host the playoffs.
The puck dropped at 7:30 at the Twins on Thursday night to start the regular season. Realizing how important each game is, and how important each point is, both teams came out flying, trying to set the tone early.
It was the Cougars that struck first with a goal by fourth year veteran Ryan Pollock that beat goalie Jomar Cruz high over his shoulder. The Bisons answered back late in the first with a scramble in front of the net that resulted in one slipping by goalie Rob Muntain. The game was still tied after three periods, and went into overtime.
It looked like the game would end in a tie until Cougars captain Donnie Kinney made a great pass to forward Derek Allan who scored with only twelve seconds left in the game giving the Cougars the 2-1 victory.
Muntain faced 44 shots in his first start this season and looked very strong in net. “Muntain, our goalie, played really well last night,” says second-year forward Lance Kopan after game two. Muntain is in his third year of eligibility and is the starting goalie for the Cougars.
Game two was a packed house at the Twins with many of the university’s foreign students on hand, which for some was their first live hockey game.
The Cougars were down early with the Bisons up by two after one, but the Cougars regrouped and came out flying in the second. Donnie Kinney opened the scoring at 6:45 and had a helper on each of the Cougars next goals. It was a power play goal at 19:10 by Lance Kopan that tied the game up at three. Says Kopan about the goal, “Donnie Kinney was on point there and he just fed me the puck on a five on three and I tapped it in.”
The Cougars definitely had momentum on their side and most likely would have finished the Bisons off, but luck was against them. Mix-ups in penalties, which took several minutes to sort out, slowed the game down to a crawl twice. If that wasn’t bad enough, with 4:34 remaining in the third and the teams tied at four, the lights went out.
The Cougars were pressing in the offensive zone and looked like they were going to finish the Bisons off before overtime, but again the Bisons were saved by delay—no lights equals no hockey. It took roughly ten minutes for things to get underway again, and most of the fans, tired of waiting, decided to take their Friday night party elsewhere.
The delays and a late hit on Kurtis Dulle, which should have been a penalty and saw Dulle leave with a possible concussion, all added up to take the wind out of the sails for the Cougars.
The Bisons, undeservingly, popped one past Muntain and a deflated Cougar hockey team at one minute and thirty seconds into overtime giving the Bisons the 5-4 win.
The Cougars certainly have a lot of positives to take away from the two game series with the Bisons. For one they came back from a two-goal deficit to almost win game two, and second goalie Muntain faced 106 shots in two games and only let in five goals.
Muntain was rewarded for his efforts in goal as the third-year Kinesiology & Health Studies student was awarded the Canada West Player of the Week honours for his 100 saves, .943 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average in the two games.
The Cougars head to Alberta next to play the University of Alberta Gloden Bears in a two game series on October 9 and 10. The Cougars will have their hands full playing last years Canada West champions. The Bears also went on to finished with a bronze at the CIS championships in Fredericton.